Guarding the Wappoo: Lt. Guy Gets Arrested

After the inspection incident at the New Bridge over Wappoo Cut (described in my previous post), General Clingman sent his Adjutant General to find out what was really going on with the guard detail at the bridge. On April 19, 1863, a week after the first inspection, Major T. Brown Venable sent a report to Edward White, Clingman’s Assistant Adjutant General. Venable reported that Lieutenant Charles Guy, Company I, 51st North Carolina, “had not properly instructed the guard in their duties and neglected his own, especially in leaving his post and going to his camp about a mile distant to get his dinner.”

Clingman forwarded the report to Colonel McKethan the next day with a demand for an immediate report on “whether the officers furnished from his Regt. for guard duty at the New Bridge, have been in the habit of returning to camp for dinner.” McKethan was backed into a corner this time. He couldn’t dispute Venable’s report, since Venable was part of the brigade staff. McKethan responded to General Clingman the same day, stating, “the officers from this regiment on guard at the Bridge over Wappoo Creek are not in the habit of leaving for their meals, & it was against their orders to do so.” Lieutenant Guy had just been thrown under the wagon (buses had not yet been invented) by his regimental commander.

Venable, at the direction of General Clingman, referred the matter to General Beauregard. On May 4, charges and specifications were drawn up against Lieutenant Guy. The unfortunate officer was placed under arrest pending court martial.

On May 13, Lieutenant Guy sent an apologetic letter to Major Venable, apparently as part of a plea agreement. Guy expressed his regret and shame for leaving his post at Wappoo Cut and promised to “endeavor in the future to discharge my duties faithfully.” Guy was released from arrest with the admonition “that the punishment tho slight will have the effect contemplated and that Lieut Guy will in future be attentive and observant of all duties which he may be called on to perform.”

Lieutenant Charles Guy served honorably with the 51st North Carolina through the remainder of the war, receiving a promotion and later commanding his company.

To see the original documents, click HERE.

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